Nightsong, by Ari Berk, illustrated by Loren Long

‘Tis the season . . . for BATS! I was fortunate to catch up with illustrator Loren Long at Books by the Banks in Cincinnati this past weekend where he was signing his new Nightsong, a picture storybook written by Ari Berk. The book is black from beginning to end–except for less dark nighttime scenes–however this bat book is endearing rather the scary. The stereotype of the bat is of a totally black creature, but they can be other colors, too. Moonlight washes over Chiro and his mother to give them dappled butterscotchy-golden hues, as the mother encourages Chiro to leave the cave and go out into the world on his own for the first time to seek his breakfast. “Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you,” she invokes. The term echolocation is never mentioned, but of course this is Chiro’s song as he makes his journey to the edge of the ocean, singing his song and hearing “the music of the land.” When the sky begins to turn light he returns to his mother, who sings him to sleep.

Loren Long, with two of his books: Nightsong, and Otis.

Loren Longs’s graphite darkness and image of the young bat with wings entwined with his mother’s adds safety and warmth to the dark cave. A brief author’s note at the end explains the name Chiro is “inspired” from the “Greek, cheir, ‘hand’ and pteron, ‘wing’ which is “the order name for bats, the only mammals capable of true flight.” A perfect book for fall . . . or anytime.


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